Alabama Softball Goes To Kentucky

This isn't men's basketball. The Alabama Crimson Tide softball team goes to Lexington to take on the Kentucky Wildcats in a Southeastern Conference doubleheader beginning at 12:30 p.m. CDT Tuesday. The teams have met 35 times previously. Can you say one-sided?

Alabama has a 34-1 advantage in the "rivalry." The Wildcats' only victory in the series was on March 21, 2004 at the UK Softball Complex in Lexington.

Alabama, which was ranked second in the nation to open the season and continues as a top ten team, is coming off a successful SEC opening weekend. After a terrible start at fourth-ranked Georgia last Saturday, a 3-0 loss, Bama rallied for an 8-5 win in the Saturday nightcap, then won the Sunday rubber game, 13-4.

Alabama improved to 17-6 on the season and is 2-1 in SEC play. Kentucky is 15-8, including a 1-2 league record after opening with a three-game series against Auburn.

Alabama has nominated freshman Kayla Braud for SEC weekly honors. Braud batted .500 (7-for-14) with six runs and two RBI. The newcomer smacked two doubles, a triple and also swiped three bases. In her first SEC series, the rookie batted .500 (5-for-10) with two doubles and four runs. In three of the four games during the week the Eugene, Ore., native collected two or more hits, including a 3-for-3 effort in the Saturday win against Georgia and 2-for-4 in the rubber game. On the season Braud leads Alabama with a .463 batting average, 31 hits, 23 runs and 12 stolen bases.

Alabama sophomore Cassie Reilly-Boccia only recorded four at bats on the weekend and collected two hits in those chances but it is what she did in the majority of her plate appearances that impressed. The Yorktown Heights, N.Y., native sported an .818 on base percentage in the two spot on the strength of six walks. Reilly-Boccia scored three times and only struck out once. On the season she has a .620 on base percentage and has been issued 23 free passes to just nine strikeouts. She leads the SEC in both statistics.

Braud ranks fifth in batting average with a .463 mark while Reilly-Boccia ranks eighth with a .434 average. Braud also ranks fifth in stolen bases and is joined by Jennifer Fenton with 12 thefts.

Junior pitcher Kelsi Dunne earned a save and notched a victory against the Bulldogs. Dunne ranks third in the SEC in strikeouts with 114 and paces the conference in punchouts looking with 41.

Kentucky is led at the plate by Natalie Smith and Molly Johnson. Smith paces the team with a .362 average on 25 hits while Johnson has provided the punch with seven home runs and 13 RBI on top of her .347 batting clip. In the circle Rachel Riley leads the team with a 0.65 ERA in 43 innings pitched, adding a 4-2 record and 32 punch outs. Chanda Bell has tossed the majority of the innings and enters the week with a 9-4 record and a 1.99 ERA in 88 innings pitched. Bell has fanned 133, but has given up 13 home runs.

Alabama returns home for a single game against Florida International Thursday, then will host South Carolina in the first home SEC series of the year next weekend.

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